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My idea: ES335 style body w thru neck

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by 83_Silberpfeil, May 23, 2017.

  1. 83_Silberpfeil


    Aug 15, 2011
    Fellow TBers --- venturing into a build. Completely a noobie here w building instruments/basses.

    My concept:
    Full Scale
    ES335-type body (semi-hollow)
    Top/bottom - prefer carved/arched
    5 piece thru neck
    active pick up (from Yamaha BB1200S)
    pre-amp (fully replicated/reproduced from BB1200S).

    I have a few questions that I'd like to get the forum's opinion on:

    1) Does it make sense to do a thru-neck in a ES335 semi-hollow body? Does the attachment of the top/bottom really dissipate the advantage of the thru neck in terms of a more continuous neck to make a greater sustaining tone?

    2) What does a 5 piece neck give me that a solid 1 piece neck doesn't. I'm thinking 5 piece mainly for the looks --- also heard that it is stronger and resists twist/warp better???

    3) overall, am I making this build way too complicated, especially for the first build?

  2. honza992

    honza992 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2006
    Nottingham, UK
    I'm on build number 8 and I would very strongly advise you to go for a simple single-pickup bolt-on design. I can't remember what Donald Rumsfeld was talking about (who knows maybe he was talking a bass building:eyebrow:) but as a complete beginner there are lots of known unknowns but lots and lots and lots of unknown unknowns. Those unknown unknowns become known unknowns halfway through a build when you get that sinking feeling and realisation that, for example, before drilling for the bridge you really should have checked alignment with the neck pocket, or that gluing on a fretboard without it moving and throwing your threats out of line sounds easy, but isnt ....etc etc etc

    A simple bolt on Fender style instrument will allow you to focus on the process of building - learning the basic skills of building a body and neck that join together properly, with strings that don't fall off the side of the fretboard with everything more or less in the right place. Without having to worry about laminations and scarf joints and fanned frets and etc etc ....all those things that all of us ultimately want to be doing.

    I have only built simple Fender style instruments and I keep a written flowchart (ok, it's just a list) of the steps that I use, and what order I do them in. It's rapidly approaching 100 separate stages, not including electronics or finishing. And every time I build I refine it, and change the order, and more problems arise so I refine it and change the order and more problems....well you get the picture.

    Or you can completely ignore my advice and do what other crazily talented first time builders do here on Talkbass and craft beautiful neck-through multi-laminate, exotic wood creations on their kitchen table. I honestly don't know how they do it, I know I couldn't. I'm just hoping that what I lack in talent I shall make up for with my amazing flowchart:eyebrow:

    Either way, good luck!
  3. 83_Silberpfeil


    Aug 15, 2011
    @honza992 Much thanks for commenting and offering your experience and wisdom!!! Totally agree with you that starting simple and learn is the best way to go.

    I just wish that a building a simple bass that I would almost be a "throw away" would motivate me to get on with the project.
  4. Jon Clegg

    Jon Clegg Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2015
    Northern Virginia
    Don't think of it as being a "throw away", but as a first step.
    twocargar and 83_Silberpfeil like this.
  5. Jisch

    Jisch Supporting Member

    Take a look at some of the builds here, there are many "simple" designs that are far from throwaway. I wouldn't think of it that way at all. But I do get your point that you need to be motivated to complete a build and working on an instrument you don't feel compelled to finish is no fun.
    83_Silberpfeil likes this.
  6. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I'm an idiot, so my first full build is neck-through, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you want it to take three years (like mine) to build. I always liked hollow or semi-hollows, hope to build one someday when I have a few under my belt. You might want to consider a kit bass like this one as a first build.
    Pit Bull Guitars ESB-4 Electric Bass Guitar Kit | Pit Bull Guitars

    This still requires a lot of work leveling and crowning frets, finish work, electronics, etc, which is a learning experience in itself. I'm in the throes of learning each step as I go, not the most efficient approach. The wiring and hardware are about what you'd expect at this price level, namely not great, but its a good upgrade platform. I can't see any real advantage to a neck through for this this type of body.
    83_Silberpfeil likes this.
  7. 83_Silberpfeil


    Aug 15, 2011
    Great advice @Jon Clegg --- will try to keep that perspective.
  8. 83_Silberpfeil


    Aug 15, 2011
    Appreciate the comment @Jisch --- and the empathy, especially the part about "working on an instrument you don't feel compelled to finish is no fun".

  9. 83_Silberpfeil


    Aug 15, 2011
    @Gilmourisgod ---

    Thanks for the introducing the Pit Bull kit, will take a look. I have an Ibanez Artcore ASB140 --- wondering if I should just try to use that as a 'donor' and modify it. Looks something like this...

    Ibanez Artcore ASB140 Hollow Electric Bass Hard Case

    With this route, I would attempt the following:

    - strip finish and sand, paint solid candy red
    - remove neck, build a 5 piece neck with exact profile/dims as the Yamaha BB1200S
    - remove all electronics and replace w Yamaha BB1200S

    Much cheaper route, but may require lots of creativity and work arounds

  10. Jisch

    Jisch Supporting Member

    building a neck is the hardest (and most satisfying) part of making a bass. Making a neck to the exact dimensions of a pocket would be a difficult first build. I've made around 15 instruments at this point, I don't think I'd take that on, not that I couldn't do it, but it would take it from fun to pain. It's far easier to match the hole to the neck. My "quick" bass builds are all based upon a pre-built neck.
    rwkeating and 83_Silberpfeil like this.
  11. jumbodbassman

    jumbodbassman Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    Stuck in traffic -NY & CT
    Born Again Tubey
    long scale 335 ish body is the Jack Casady bass. neck diver and plays very long
    83_Silberpfeil likes this.
  12. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    You're wrong. Aesthetics has nothing to do with it.

    Multiple pieces of wood with the grain oriented in opposite directions means it will be more resistant to changing shape as humidity changes seasonally than a single piece.

    It's also stiffer for the same reason. Stiffer necks give more sustain and fewer dead spots.
    83_Silberpfeil likes this.
  13. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    What about a 335 shape, but flat. You could build each side and chamber, glue up to the neck blank, and add a top.
    Doesn't even need to be a neck through if you decide against it.

    I only say this because I have been itching to build something like that, but with a different body shape.
    83_Silberpfeil likes this.
  14. 83_Silberpfeil


    Aug 15, 2011
    Yes, certainly a possibility I've explored. And building on this idea --- why not completely carve out the innards of the 'wings, leaving just 1/4 or 3/8 inch to mount the top AND the back and the neck. AND --- us a thicker top and carve the outside of the front/back??? It's all vanity anyways as most of the sound/tone will be from the thru neck anyway.

    johnson79 likes this.
  15. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    I don't think you should disassemble your ASB. It's a really well crafted instrument as it is. Its neck is already three-piece, so almost nothing to gain by removing and replacing it.

    I do like the idea of using its body outline to make a template, and using that template to make a new body that incorporates your ideas. In fact, I might do that with mine!
    83_Silberpfeil likes this.
  16. 83_Silberpfeil


    Aug 15, 2011
    @ctmullins thanks for your comment. Indeed a very nice instrument --- and I believe very competitively priced when it was issued. Picked up mine via CL a few years ago.

    ctmullins likes this.
  17. rdrr


    Mar 29, 2005
    Newburyport MA
    This would be a pretty ambitious first build.

    Something to keep in mind is neck angle. ES335's need an angle to account for the height of the bridge at the body. They generally have set necks as well though lakeland makes something like it with a bolt on. It's a lot easier to adjust the angle of the pocket to meet the needs of the instrument than changing the body. With a neck through you would need to be careful and be precise with your measurements up front or you may be reshaping the body to fit the neck angle correctly or trying to find a way to shim the bridge into position.

    The tops and sides of 335s are also laminated and about 3/16th to 1/4 in thick. If you go the carved and chambered route I would say to leave more than a 1/4 in the sides. The tops of 335's are glued to the kerfing on inside which is a bit wider than that. Also, trying to chamber a solid piece down to that thickness can result in cracking it somewhere in the process. It's not like the laminated sides of an acoustic which have flex. Catch a think peice of wood with a router the wrong way and it's toast. If this is only about the way it looks treat it more like a regular chambered body with enough integrity left on the sides that you wont have to worry about it. Having the body have a bit more heft will help with neck dive too, though so would making it a 30-32 in scale instead of a 34, which is what I would do.
    Will_White likes this.
  18. 83_Silberpfeil


    Aug 15, 2011
    Thanks for all the suggestions @rdrr . I realize this is very ambitious --- I'm giving myself 2 years to do this --- tons of planning/learning before doing.

    To lessen the complexity, perhaps going the 'flat top' and 'carved/chamberred' approach would be wise. Yes, leaving at least 1/4", perhaps 3/8"on the edges. I would also imagine that having a flat top would make calculating the necessary neck angle a bit less prone to error, or at least, less guesswork.


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